Easy budgeting tips for military families to manage finances during the holidays
Even though the holidays of 2021 may seem like a long time ago, many Americans, including military families, are still feeling their effects, such as credit card debt and spending regrets. Many are still exploring debt relief options to get back on the right financial track.
However, there are ways to enjoy the holiday with your loved ones without digging hard into your finances or getting into debt. Budgeting and spending wisely is the key.
Here are a few budgeting tips to help you enjoy the holiday season with your friends and family without burning your pockets.
Go through your last year's holiday expenses.
Look at your last year's holiday spending lists to determine how much you spent on gifts, decorations, clothes, traveling, food, and other holiday-related expenses. You know it's time to reconsider the amount and spend less if the expenses leave you struggling through the next month.
Determine an amount for each category of expenses
With your last year's expenses amount, set a budget for each spending category. For example, create a list of the people you will buy gifts, and a set budget for each person. Again, decide how much you will spend on food, decorations, or clothes. Allocate a reasonable amount for each category.
Alternatively, feel free to adjust the amount. For example, you could spend more on food or decoration than last year and less on clothes.
Communicate your budget
Budgeting should be made realistic by communicating the same to your family. Inform your children and spouse about your financial planning and budget for each category. For example, if your family plans to go on a holiday, communicating your budget can help them have realistic travel options.
Look around to re-use the previous year's purchases
After you have set out the budget and determined the categories of purchases you need to make, look around your house to determine whether or not you already have some of those items at home. For example, you might have some leftover wrapping papers from last year's gift-giving or decorations that can be re-used this year too. This saves you money from making additional purchases.
Stay away from impulse buying
The holiday season can intrigue any person with good reasons to make purchases, with sales and discounts all over. Although shopping during sales and discounts is beneficial, you must not overspend or impulse buy. Consider whether or not you will value those items after the holiday season.
Be cautious with your credit card
Preparing a budget can help you estimate your spending for a holiday, but sticking to it is crucial. Using a credit card can be beneficial for your purchases if using bonuses and rewards. But the downside is that you may easily lose track of your budget and end up overpaying.
If you are overusing your credit card and incurring debt, you may look for debt relief options to help you recover. Alternatively, it may help you check your balances to avoid overspending frequently.
Consider second-hand decorations
Often, people have all the essentials, yet they also allocate money for a yearly ornament, any Christmas light maintenance, and one indoor/outdoor holiday decoration item. Instead, consider looking at places like thrift stores to purchase second-hand decoration items and save some dollars.
Consider valuable gift items
When purchasing items to gift people, think of reasonable and inexpensive alternatives to gifts. Instead of buying gifts, consider spending time and effort on homemade gifts. You can watch online tutorials and create your DIY skills for ideas and guidance.
Alternatively, you may also send thoughtful but inexpensive gifts, like coupons offering services.
Save money on cards
Consider sending your friends and family homemade cards instead of traditional cards this holiday. Sending electronic cards can be an effective way of saving money.
You can check on various websites that provide free or affordable electronic cards. Some of these may even have options for adding videos or slide shows to your cards.
Plan your meals in advance
Making preparations well in advance can help you save the last-minute hustle and impulse buying. For example, plan your holiday meal.
Planning your meal gives you the advantage of sales to buy the non-perishable food items you may need for the big day.
You can shop for sales and discounts and compare prices from various stores. Finally, you can make purchases for a lower price. Moreover, you can easily divide the food costs over two paychecks instead of stretching on just one.
Travel on holidays
You may consider traveling on the main holidays. Most people book their tickets and prepare to fly before the holidays. But in reality, flying on the actual holidays instead of the days before the holiday can help you bag airline tickets at a significantly lower price. In addition, you can avoid doing a lot of meal preparation when you arrive on a primary day.
Research your travel expenses
It is always helpful to research before traveling. You may look up hotel and flight prices online. You can check on various websites that show updated prices of hotels and airlines and compare them to choose the most suitable option. There may be several websites that even inform you when the prices drop.
You can also check the online reviews before making a transaction. It helps to ensure you make the right choice for the value of your money.
Prepare from January
People usually begin to budget and prepare for holidays shortly before it's time. But in actuality, managing finances can be more effortless if the preparation starts right from the beginning of the year.
Look back at the previous year and establish a holiday spending limit. Accordingly, you may save a small portion of your paycheck every month and put it in a different account to cover the expenses of the holidays.
Making preparations to spend the holidays with your family and friends is no easy job. It often involves a lot of planning, shopping, decision-making, and spending. However, there are many ways to cut additional costs over the holidays and save money without compromising holiday fun.
For example, saving a few dollars every month can make holidays less stressful. Again, with proper budgeting and making suitable choices like spending reasonably on gifts, decorations, cards, travelling, etc., you can ensure a fun and memorable holiday without hurting your finances.
Lyle Solomon is a licensed attorney in California. He has been affiliated with the law firms in California, Nevada, and Arizona since 1991. As the principal attorney of Oak View Law Group, he gives advice and writes articles to help people solve their debt problems. You can connect with him at Linkedin or tweet him at @lyle_solomon.